In a previous Design Journal entry for Heroes of Legend I talked about a character’s nine core attributes and the basics of how you’ll make an attribute check. Last time, I talked about different actions you’ll take with those core attributes and how many dice you’ll roll depending on the type of action. Now, I’m going to figure out what kind of numbers you should be aiming to get on these rolls.
There are really two factors that I have to consider. One is the size of the dice being rolled. This is based on your rank in the attribute being used and could range from d4s to d12s. The other factor is the type of action being taken, be it instinctive, simple, standard, complex, or involved. The type of action determines how many dice are being rolled, ranging from 1 to 5.
Here are some examples: If you’re taking an instinctive action with an attribute ranked at d4, you’ll only be rolling 1d4 for your check. If you’re taking a standard action with an attribute ranked at d12, you’ll be rolling 3d12. And, if you’re taking an involved action with an attribute ranked at d8, you’ll be rolling 5d8.
In order for target numbers to be consistently challenging, yet fair, they will have to be chosen based on both of the factors mentioned above. For example, a target number of 17 would be a pretty average challenge for an involved action with an attribute ranked at d6, but it would be impossible for an instinctive – or even a simple – action with the same attribute.
Target numbers shouldn’t change based on how an attribute is ranked – the reward for having a higher ranked attribute is that you can succeed more easily at tasks related to that attribute. But it should change based on the type of action you’re taking. This allows us to keep challenges fair, and if you need a rationale, it makes sense for simpler actions to be less challenging than more complex ones.
Still, some tasks that may be performed in the same amount of time should still be more or less difficult than others. For example, jumping a chasm takes about the same amount of time regardless of whether the chasm is four feet wide or ten feet wide, but jumping the ten foot gap would be more difficult.
Trying to take all of the above into account, I’ve devised the chart below for reference by the game master. This chart shows easy, moderate, and hard target numbers for actions of each type. When asking a player to make a check, a GM need only decide how long the task being attempted should take, and how difficult it should be. Then, he or she can pull the appropriate target number from this chart. After rolling dice and adding all of the numbers rolled together, the player compares that total to the target number to see if their character succeeded at their task.